The Fits

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USA | 2015 | 72 minutes | Anna Rose Holmer

Toni is a young tomboy in a black Cincinnati neighborhood who joins an elite after-school dance with a peculiar rite of passage known as "the fits," mysterious outbreaks of fainting and swooning spells that make Toni question how far she will go to fit in.

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Inspired by real stories of mass hysteria, The Fits is both an allegory about adolescent identity and a meditation on the physical and social spaces that we learn to inhabit in our youth. Toni, a tomboyish preteen boxer, is irresistibly drawn to an all-girl dance team that trains at the same recreational center where she and her brother work out. Attracted to their confidence and power, she joins their squad. Slowly, she learns to enjoy this newfound female camaraderie but struggles to navigate the group's routines and rituals while still maintaining her own individuality. When a mysterious outbreak of seizures and fainting spells begins to afflict the team, the girls close ranks, and Toni must decide what their acceptance is worth and how far she will go to get it. First-time director Anna Rose Holmer and cinematographer Paul Yee put us inside Toni's perspective, using distinctive framing and serpentine tracking shots to accent her dreamy sense of isolation as she navigates the tumultuous spaces surrounding her. Heightening this effect is an immersive score and sound design that combines evocative, ambient textures with the percussive shouts, claps, and stomps of this real-life Cincinnati drill team. Bonding these elements together is newcomer Royalty Hightower, whose nuanced performance as Toni brings a presence and intelligence to every moment of Holmer's astonishing debut.

Director Biography
Anna Rose Holmer is a director and producer of documentary, narrative, and experimental video. Before directing her debut narrative film, The Fits, she helped produce documentaries including Ballet 422 (SIFF 2014). She was included on Filmmaker Magazine's 2015 list of the "25 New Faces of Independent Film."

Sponsored by Seattle University Film Studies, The Central Apartments, CTI BioPharma

  • Director: Anna Rose Holmer
  • Principal Cast: Royalty Hightower, Makyla Burnam, Lauren Gibson, Alexis Neblett, Da'Sean Minor
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2015
  • Running Time: 72 minutes
  • Producer: Anna Rose Holmer, Lisa Kjerulff
  • Screenplay: Saela Davis, Anna Rose Holmer, Lisa Kjerulff
  • Cinematographers: Paul Yee
  • Editors: Saela Davis
  • Music: Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Filmography: Debut Feature Film
  • Language: English
  • Format: DCP
  • US Distributor: Oscilloscope Laboratories
  • International Sales: Mongrel International